The author chatted to Emma Clarendon about her debut novel Animals Eat Each Other.

Hi Elle, thanks for talking to me. Could you tell me a bit more about what Animals Eat Each Other is about? Thanks so much for having me. Animals Eat Each Other is a novel about a young girl who falls into a non-traditional love triangle with a couple, and slowly loses her sense of self in the process. Her desire to maintain a relationship with them begins to eclipse every other relationship in her life, until she becomes obsessed. It is also a novel about the search for self, how identify meanders, how people probably don’t change the core of who they are even over a series of trials and tribulations. It’s a novel about loss, and about solitude and loneliness. 

How did the idea for the story come about? Everyone experiences rejection, loneliness, loss and longing. I wanted to write a story that explored these topics, that explored non-traditional relationship structures, with a bisexual character in which her bisexuality wasn’t a token or a “process of awakening” for her, as I feel many stories tend to centre one’s bisexuality as a novelty to the reader. For my character, it’s never really questioned or discussed, she simply is. I also wanted to explore how people might work against their own self-interests, but wanted to present this story in a non-judgmental way as much as possible to allow the reader to determine for themselves how they feel about the character’s actions.

What made you want to write a novel initially? Animals actually began as a ten page short story in a writing workshop. I began to work with my mentor, the author Tom Spanbauer, to edit it, and it just kept expanding until it was a much larger story than I realized. Once I got to a certain point I just decided I needed to commit to making it more of a novel. 

How does it feel having your debut novel being published? Terrifying. But at the same time, I’m glad the story is out in the world.

What have you enjoyed the most about writing a novel? I’d say there’s something unique about every stage of writing a novel that I love– beginning with nothing and just continuing forward to finish the first draft, even hating the draft for a while is a process I love because dissatisfaction is how one keeps improving. I’d have to say that revision is probably the easiest, most creative part for me. Revising feels a little like taking a really tiny paintbrush to a painting, making those fine details come alive. 

Have you any more books planned? I do have a second manuscript I’m currently working on, as well as a few other projects I’m eager to begin. 

Elle Nash is author of Animals Eat Each Other (404 Ink), available now. She will be speaking at Review bookshop in Peckham on Wednesday 21st August at 7pm. For tickets: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/animals-eat-each-other-elle-nash-and-ruby-rare-in-conversation-tickets-67205285819

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